Bob Dole Receives Congressional Gold Medal

January 17, 2018

Updated at 3:55 p.m. ET

Former Sen. Bob Dole is receiving the Congressional Gold Medal on Wednesday, in recognition of his service to the nation as a “soldier, legislator and statesman.”

He is being presented the medal by President Trump and bipartisan congressional leaders at a ceremony in the Capitol rotunda. Dole was an early backer of Trump, and the only former GOP presidential nominee to endorse the president.

“Bob Dole always stood for what was just and what was right,” House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis. said. “Because of you, America is much better.”

It takes support from two-thirds of the House and 67 senators to award the medal. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., said he got support for Dole’s medal from all 100 senators in two days.

“You are our hero,” Roberts said.

The Congressional Gold Medal has been awarded to a range of recipients, from George Washington to Rosa Parks to Frank Sinatra, Congress’ “highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions.”

Dole served 35 years in Congress, most of them in the Senate, where he rose to the post of Republican leader, a position he held for a record of nearly 11 years.

In 1996, he was the party’s nominee for president, losing to Bill Clinton. He lost two earlier bids for the GOP nomination. He was also President Gerald Ford’s running mate in 1976.

At the time he was seen as Ford’s hatchet man, famously labeling the 20th century’s armed conflicts as “Democrat wars.” After losing the New Hampshire primary to then-Vice President George H.W. Bush in 1988, he called on Bush to “stop lying about my record.”

But in later years he mellowed, joining former Democratic rival Sen. Tom Daschle of South Dakota at the Bipartisan Policy Center they helped found.

Dole, 94, was grievously wounded in World War II and never recovered use of his right arm. In recent years he’s been spotted sitting in a wheelchair and greeting fellow veterans at the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.